Every leopard gecko owner knows that their little reptiles don’t ask for much. They are low maintenance compared to other pet lizards and make for a great beginner’s reptile.
But one thing that they cannot survive without is heat! Originally found in the planet’s tropical areas, these beauties have a low cold tolerance. But how long can a leopard gecko go without heat?
The maximum these reptiles can survive in the cold is 90 days, given that the temperature stays above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
But let’s understand how leopard geckos’ bodies work and what you can do if there is an unforeseen outage in your house.
Why Do Leopard Geckos Need Heat?
Native to Afghanistan, India, Iran, Pakistan, and Nepal, geckos naturally thrive in warmer, tropical climates.
Being ectothermic in nature, they soak heat from the air, and rocks and bask in the sun. But in captivity, they depend on artificial sources of heat to survive.
Ground-dwelling in nature, they need heat to perform basic bodily functions such as walking and digestion.
Unable to find proper heat, they enter into a state of torpor, sluggishness, and fatigue called brumation.
Although brumation is not characterized by complete inactivity, the reptiles will become quite weak if the cold persists for longer.
Brumation makes them acquire energy from their fat reservoirs, making their metabolism slow. Therefore it is a must that you provide your geckos with ample heat.
Ways to Provide Heat to Leopard Geckos
- Their tanks should have a designated basking spot where they can get some sunlight. (Ideal temperature: 86 – 90 Fahrenheit). Remember, they are native to arid regions where sunlight is abundantly available. To make sure your geckos live a longer and healthier life, you need to make them soak in the sun!
- You can arrange for a heat lamp over their tanks that can make up for the cold. Lamps are excellent for pet reptiles during the winter as they can serve as effective quick fixes in case the temperature goes really down. Even otherwise, it is best to use heat lamps during the winter to provide your reptiles with some heat.
- You can also use heat mats or heat pads, that can be run throughout the day. The heat mats are great for reptiles as they provide a constant source of heat. Reptiles who don’t get to enjoy the sunshine at all can really benefit from these products.
It is best to use a combined setup of both heat lamps and heat mats to make sure your reptiles get ample heat. In extremely cold conditions, they cannot survive with just one.
What Happens When There is No Heat
When your leopard gecko does not get heat from its surroundings, they enter a state of brumation. But this doesn’t happen straight away.
Leopard Geckos can survive a temperature close to 60 degrees for a few days before they enter brumation.
Brumation is nothing but a state of sluggishness and retarded metabolism. Even in brumation, reptiles are mildly active, unlike hibernation which is characterized by complete inactivity.
In brumation, leopard geckos tend to sleep a lot and they depend entirely on their fat reservoirs for energy. They cannot eat more food and therefore they poop less frequently.
If the temperature is restored to a warmer level, they can revive to their normal, active state. But if the cold becomes more intense, they will eventually get sick and might even die.
Things to Keep in mind When there are Heat Interruptions
There are many ways you can protect your gecko from the cold. Even in case of electronic outages and power cuts, there are certain measures you can take to keep your little reptile safe.
- You should make sure that you record the tank’s temperature frequently. Optimally, it is best to note down temperatures day and night. By doing so, you will get an idea if the temperature has started to drop.
- Arrange for heating equipment and alternatives in case there is an outage. And keep an eye out for announcements and weather forecasts, so that you can prepare in advance.
- If you are planning to go outside for longer durations, it is best to take your gecko with you. This way, it will be easier to provide it with heat and be aware of its requirements.
What to Do During Emergency or Power Outages
There is no need to panic if there is a sudden outage in your house and it is literally freezing cold! There are still many options for providing heat to your leopard gecko.
Keep a Small Generator Handy
If you live in a region that experiences frequent outages, it is best to keep a small generator handy. These days, you get a variety of options at a retail store at cheap rates. They are highly convenient and also portable.
Having a generator or a power station will keep the heating setup running for longer.
You can go for power stations if you are looking for a safer option as they don’t need any gas to run. They are also highly convenient, compact, and portable.
Heat Packs are great for traveling purposes, in case your gecko needs some instant heat on the way. But even otherwise, heat packs can be really beneficial during power outages.
They can provide heat to the geckos for approximately 72 hours. Make sure you wrap your heat pads with some thick cloth so as to not burn the gecko.
Take Your Gecko to Your Car
This option is great for providing heat to your geckos for a short amount of time, as your car will eventually run out of gas if you keep it on for a long.
But in emergency situations, this can be a great fix to keep your gecko warm.
Use Kerosene Heaters
Kerosene heaters can be really effective if there is no electricity in the house. These act as another quick fix and cannot be used for a long time.
But despite this, they can offer a lot of heat to the geckos and keep them warm in case you don’t have any other heating alternative.
Cover the Tank with a Cloth
When there is an outage, the reptile tank will start to cool off immediately. But to make sure the tank remains heated for a while, you can cover the head of it with a shawl or a blanket to prevent the heat from escaping.
Do Not Provide Your Gecko With Food
A leopard gecko cannot digest food in a lack of heat. They need heat for proper digestion and excretion.
If you keep providing your gecko with more and more food, it will just stay inside its stomach undigested, causing diseases.
So it is best to let them follow the natural course and acquire energy from their fat reservoirs.
Potential Health Risks in Case Heat is Not Provided to your Leopard Gecko
Your reptiles are prone to various ailments during the cold. After entering a state of brumation, they are in survival mode. But they cannot remain in this state for an extensive period of time.
If the cold becomes very harsh, your geckos will eventually give up and become sick as a result.
These are some of the diseases that geckos are prone to during winter:
Stick Tail Disease
Leopard geckos’ tails carry fat reservoirs. When in brumation, these reptiles acquire all the energy from these reservoirs.
If the cold persists for a long time, the geckos end up sucking all the energy from their tails, resulting in a complete loss of fat. Thus, the tails are reduced to just their vertebrae making them look stick-like.
Impaction is a digestive disease caused in geckos characterized by obstruction in their digestive tracts.
Because of the lack of heat, geckos’ digestive system becomes inactive and weak. And clearing the tracts becomes an energy-intensive task for them. And can lead to more serious issues like having black spot on belly, etc.
However, this disease can be treated with a gentle oil massage on your gecko’s belly. However, severe cases can only be treated with surgery.
During colder months, respiratory infections are pretty common in geckos. If your gecko is breathing with an open mouth and closed nostrils and has become rather weak and immobile, this can be a sign of a respiratory infection.
In such a situation, it is best to seek immediate care from a vet as the infection can become deadly if left untreated.
Leopard Geckos are amazing, low-maintenance reptiles. But heat is like a crucial necessity for them, without which they cannot survive.
Your geckos can only survive for approximately 12 weeks without heat, on the condition that they are already quite healthy and active.
Unhealthy, malnourished geckos cannot survive without heat for longer. However, there are numerous ways of keeping your gecko warm.
You must take certain measures and prepare beforehand so that you are well-prepared during an emergency. With power stations, kerosene lamps and heaters, heat pads, and mats keeping your little gecko warm can be fairly easy!